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I recently spent a part of my Friday night watching an ABC News 20/20 special report on the 13 siblings rescued in 2018 about an hour east of Los Angeles.  At the time of the rescue, the Turpin brothers and sisters ranged in ages from two to 29.  Their story, like so many other child neglect stories, is a level past heartbreaking. 

The Turpin parents, David and Louise, who are now serving life sentences for their years of abuse, locked the children in their homes, chained them to beds, and provided them with little to eat and drink.  At the time of the rescue, 12 of the 13 siblings were severely underweight and hadn’t bathed for several months.  According to doctors who treated the Turpin 13, only the two-year-old showed no signs of being abused. 

But this story runs deeper than monster parents who treat their children in ways most of us could never imagine.  The Turpin siblings walked away from what they called a “House of Horrors” straight into a social services system of horrors!

After their rescue, more than $500,000 in donations were raised by groups in California for their care.  Other donations filtered in nationwide. According to ABC News, the money was placed in a trust that is controlled by a public guardian appointed by the court.  But if you watched the ABC News special, you heard three of the Turpin siblings shockingly tell stories of not having access to the money.  29-year-old Joshua Turpin told ABC News was told by the public guardian to “Just Google it” when he requested information to access some of the money for a mode of transportation.  A bike!  “I called the public guardian and she refused to let me request a bike,” he said.  That same public guardian can be seen on her Facebook page enthusiastically offering her services as a real estate agent. 

ABC News also reported the Executive Officer for Riverside County, Jeff Van Waganen, said his office hired a law firm, run by a former federal judge, to “analyze the services provided and quality of care they received.”  That report is due by the end of March 2022.  March?  Are you kidding me!  The Turpin siblings, and countless numbers struggling to survive in the social services system, need better care now! 

“The County of Riverside is committed to conducting a thorough and transparent review of the services provided to the Turpin siblings and to improve and strengthen the County’s child welfare and dependent adult systems,” added Van Waganen.

But isn’t that what we hear too often?  An office reacting to incredibly negative publicity.  All the while, thousands of kids, all over the country, need help right now.  They need hardworking, compassionate, and caring public servants focused on helping those who are usually too young or unskilled, through no fault of their own, to help themselves.

But that’s where someone(s) at a higher pay grade than me has to do a better job than we’ve seen for too many years.  The most recent data released (2019) by the Health and Human Service’s Children’s Bureau showed 656,000 children in the United States were determined, by investigation, to be victims of maltreatment.  As for the number of children who received proper prevention and post-response services? Well, if that number isn’t 656,000, then we haven’t learned from the stories of 5-year-old Terrell Peterson of Atlanta, two-year-old Emma Rose Bingaman of Michigan, and 6-year-old Eliza Izquierdo of Brooklyn. 

It shouldn’t take an ABC News 20/20 special report on the Turpin’s “House of Horrors” to take action.

by guest columnist Anthony Pittman

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.